Typhoon Morakot

Typhoon Morakot, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Kiko, was the deadliest typhoon to impact Taiwan in recorded history. The eighth named storm and fourth typhoon of the 2009 Pacific typhoon season, Morakot wrought catastrophic damage in Taiwan, leaving 673 people dead and 26 missing, and causing roughly NT$110 billion (US$3.3 billion) in damages. The storm produced copious amounts of rainfall, peaking at 2,777 mm (109.3 in), far surpassing the previous record of 1,736 mm (68.35 in) set by Typhoon Herb in 1996. The extreme amount of rain triggered enormous mudflows and severe flooding throughout southern Taiwan. One landslide (and subsequent flood) destroyed the entire town of Siaolin, killing over 400 people. The slow-moving storm also caused widespread damage in China, leaving eight people dead and causing $1.4 billion (2009 USD) in damages. Nearly 2,000 homes were destroyed in the country and 136,000 more were reported to have sustained damage.

Typhoon Morakot (Kiko)
Typhoon (JMA scale)
Category 1 typhoon (SSHWS)
Typhoon Morakot Aug 7 2009.jpg
Typhoon Morakot approaching Taiwan on August 7
Formed2 August 2009
Dissipated13 August 2009
(Extratropical after 11 August 2009)
Highest winds10-minute sustained: 140 km/h (85 mph)
1-minute sustained: 150 km/h (90 mph)
Lowest pressure945 hPa (mbar); 27.91 inHg
Fatalities789 total
Damage$6.2 billion (2009 USD)
Areas affectedPhilippines, Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea, North Korea
Part of the 2009 Pacific typhoon season

In the wake of the storm, Taiwan's government faced extreme criticism for the slow response to the disaster and having only initially deployed roughly 2,100 soldiers to the affected regions. Later, the number of soldiers working to recover trapped residents increased to 46,000. Rescue crews were able to retrieve thousands of trapped residents from buried villages and isolated towns across the island. Days later, Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou apologized for the government's slow response publicly. On August 19, the Taiwan government announced that they would start a NT$100 billion (US$3 billion) reconstruction plan that would take place over a three-year span in the devastated regions of southern Taiwan.[1] Days after the storm, international aid began to be sent to the island.

The storm also caused severe flooding in the northern Philippines that killed 26 people due to the enhancement of the southwest monsoon.

Meteorological historyEdit

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

Early on August 2, 2009, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) reported that a tropical depression had formed within a monsoon trough located about 1000 km (620 mi),[2][3] However the depression remained weak, and was downgraded to an area of low pressure before regenerating later that day.[4][5][6] Both the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) then started to monitor the depression early the next day whilst it was located about 700 km (430 mi) to the southeast of Okinawa, Japan with PAGASA assigning the name Kiko to the depression.[3][7] The JTWC was reporting at this time that it was an area of convection with deep convection flaring on the western side of a partially exposed low level circulation center.[3]

Later on August 3, the JMA reported that the depression had intensified into a Tropical Storm and named it as Morakot. The JTWC further designated it as Tropical Depression 09W as deep convection had increased over the low level circulation center and reported that it was moving around a low level ridge of pressure which was located to the east of the low level circulation center. On the morning of August 4, the JTWC reported that the Morakot had steadily intensified into a Tropical storm as wind-speeds were estimated to be near 65 km/h (40 mph) with deep convective banding building toward the low level circulation center under the influence of a subtropical ridge located to the east of the system. Later that day the JMA reported that Morakot had intensified into a Severe Tropical Storm before it was upgraded to a typhoon by the JMA and the JTWC early the next day.

Initially, the JTWC anticipated that Morakot would intensify to a powerful typhoon while approaching China, peaking as a Category 4-equivalent typhoon on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. However, due to the size of the typhoon, the barometric pressure steadily decreased; however, maximum winds only increased slightly. Early on August 7, the storm attained its peak intensity with winds of 140 km/h (85 mph 10-minute sustained) according to the JMA. The JTWC reported the storm to be slightly stronger, with winds peaking at 150 km/h (90 mph 1-minute sustained), the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. Morakot weakened slightly before making landfall in central Taiwan later that day. Roughly 24 hours later, the storm emerged back over water into the Taiwan Strait and weakened to a severe tropical storm before making landfall in Mainland China on August 9. The storm gradually weakened as it continued to slowly track inland. The remnants of the typhoon eventually dissipated on August 11.


Tropical Storm Morakot over eastern China on August 9


At 0000 UTC on August 3, the JMA placed the Moji and Yokohama navtex areas under a gale warning, six hours later they also placed the Naha navtex area under a gale warning.[8][9] Later that day at 1800 UTC, the JMA canceled the gale warnings for the Yokohama navtex area however at 0600 UTC the next morning the gale warning for Yokohama was reissued.[10][11] The JMA kept these warnings in force before they were upgraded to a typhoon warnings as Morakot intensified into a typhoon on August 5.[12] Early the next day, US military installations on Okinawa raised their Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) from level 4 to level 3 which meant that winds exceeding 50 knots (93 km/h, 57 mph) were expected to affect Okinawa within 48 hours.[13] This came as the JMA canceled the warning for Yokohama.


From their first warning, PAGASA warned that the depression was expected to “enhance the Southwest Monsoon and bring occasional heavy rain over Luzon and Western Visayas”.[7] However, early on August 6, they placed the Batanes in Northern Luzon under Public Storm Warning Signal 1 (PSWS 1), which meant that winds of up to 35 kn (65 km/h) were expected in Batanes within 36 hours. They then placed Northern Cagayan, Apayao, Ilocos, and Norte under PSWS 1 later that day, as it moved toward Taiwan. They kept these warnings in place until early on August 8, when they revised the warnings downgrading the signal for Northern Cagayan, Apayao, Ilocos and Norte, while putting Babuyan and Calayan Islands under PSWS 1 and then early the next day PAGASA released their final warning and downgrade all signals for the Philippines.[14]


  • August 5, 2009: 20:30, the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan issued a Sea Typhoon Alert for Morakot.
  • August 6, 2009: Severe Tropical Storm Morakot intensified into a typhoon.
  • August 7, 2009: Morakot was closing in on Taiwan. It moved very slowly and it made landfall just before midnight.
  • August 8, 2009: After midnight, most of the districts in south Taiwan recorded heavy rainfall.


More than 953,000 residents and more than 35,000 boats were evacuated back to shore in the eastern and southeastern provinces of the People's Republic of China.[15] A fishing boat capsized with nine fishermen missing.[16] In all, roughly 1.5 million residents were evacuated ahead of the typhoon.[17] A total of 34,000 watercraft sought refuge ahead of the storm.[18]



On Thursday August 6, shortly after midday, Morakot lashed Okinawa-Honto with wind gusts as high as 65 mph (105 km/h),[19] stranding thousands of summer holiday air travelers. Naha Airport experienced east crosswinds of 50 mph (80 km/h) which almost completely shut down the airport. Domestic and international airlines reported 252 flights canceled, stranding 41,648 passengers at the peak of the summer Obon holidays. Some Kadena-based U.S. aircraft were evacuated ahead of Morakot.[19] The southernmost island groups of Yaeyama, including Yonaguni and Ishigaki, were affected by gale- or storm-force winds.


Flooding in the Philippines

In the Philippines, eleven villages (Pagudpod, San Juan, Baton-lapoc, Carael, Tampo, Paco, San Miguel, Bining, Bangan, and Capayawan) were submerged in 4-to-5-foot-deep (1.2 to 1.5 m) floods after the Pinatubo Dike overflowed around 4:00 p.m. on August 6, 2009.[20] Joint military and police rescue teams rescued 3 Koreans and 9 Canadian nationals. About 29,000 people were affected by Morakot; nine people were confirmed dead.[21][22] Three French tourists and two Filipino guides were killed in a flash flood caused by a landslide. Thousands were trapped on rooftops or in trees awaiting helicopter rescue attempts and thousands lost their homes. At least two people died due to flooding. Landslides claimed the lives of no less than twelve miners after a mine caved in. Schools suspended their classes in the hardest hit area, and highways closed due to landslides.[23]


The coast of Keelung, Taiwan, where schools were closed ahead of the typhoon, Morakot caused landslides, severe floods, blew down trees and billboards, and stripped roofs from buildings.[24]

After Morakot landed at midnight on August 8, almost the entire southern region of Taiwan (Chiayi County/Chiayi City, Tainan County/Tainan City (now merged as Tainan), Kaohsiung County/Kaohsiung City (now merged as Kaohsiung), and Pingtung County) and parts of Taitung County and Nantou County were flooded by record-breaking heavy rain. The rainfall in Pingtung County exceeded 2,600 millimetres (100 in), breaking all rainfall records of any single place in Taiwan induced by a single typhoon.[25] Airlines in Taiwan did hold some flights in and out of airports, but seaports were closed. Electricity supplies were cut to approximately 25,000 homes.[26]

Siaolin Village, a mountain village with 1,300 residents in Jiasian Township, was buried by a massive landslide (and subsequent flood) that destroyed the town, and resulted in 465 deaths.[27] It was reported that all roads toward Namasia Township were either blocked or washed away by severe mudflows. Hundreds of residents were trapped for four days, and were running out of food and water. In addition, water and electricity had been cut.[28] Other affected areas included the Taimali River mouth, the Zhiben River catchment, the Gaoping River bridge linking Linyuan and Xinyuan townships at the boundary between Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties, and several catchments in Pingtung County where the rivers flow into the Taiwan Strait.[29] A rescue helicopter, working to retrieve survivors of the mudflow crashed into a mountain side early on August 11, killing the three occupants. Crews were unable to reach the wreckage due to the steep terrain.[30]

Comparison with world rainfall records [31][32]
Bold indicates current world record
Storm name
and year
World record
prior to Morakot[clarification needed]
Morakot total
mm in mm in ref
24 Denise (1966)[33] 1825 71.8 1623.5 63.9 [34]
48 Unnamed (1958) 2467 97.1 2361 93.0 [34]
72 Gamede (2007) 3929 154.6 2748 108.2 [34]
96 Gamede (2007) 4869 191.7
Total Hyacinthe (1980) 5678 223.5 2884 113.5 [34]

A swollen river in Taitung County undermined 51 homes and swept them away into the Pacific, leaving numerous residents homeless. No people were in the homes when they collapsed into the river.[35] In the famous Zhiben Hot Springs area, the six-story Jinshuai Hotel was destroyed when it collapsed into the Zhiben River after being undermined by flood waters. Several stores in front of the hotel were washed away days earlier as the river continued to overflow its banks and inundate nearby towns and cities. Running water in Tainan County to 280,000 was shut down as flood waters contaminated the local reservoir.[36]

According to statistics of the Morakot Post‐Disaster Reconstruction Council up to February 4, 2010, the disaster resulted in 677 deaths, 4 severely injured, and 22 missing persons, as well as an additional 25 bodies that were not identified: a total of 728 persons (cases).[37] The record-breaking rains also caused catastrophic agricultural losses, with estimates reaching NT$9 billion (US$274 million). At its peak, roughly 1.58 million were without power across the island and over 710,000 were without water pressure.[38] Tourism losses due to the typhoon were estimated to be at least NT$800 million (US$24.4 million).[39]

However, Morakot also ended a month-long drought and replenished reservoirs enough to warrant an end to water rationing.[40]

The "Little Three Links" between Kinmen of the Republic of China and Xiamen of the People's Republic of China was suspended. Almost all reservoirs in Kinmen County were full. Winds at Force 13 on the Beaufort scale were recorded in the Matsu Islands.

National Disaster Prevention and Protection Commission is the task-force-grouped committee authorized by the law of Disaster Prevention and Protection.[41]


During a four-day span, Morakot produced up to 1,240 mm (49 in) of rain in Zhejiang province, the highest total in nearly 60 years in the province. A landslide in Pengxi, at the foot of a mountain, destroyed a three-story apartment building, with six people inside. All six were recovered from the rubble of the structure. However, two later died of their injuries.[17] In Wenzhou, a large landslide destroyed six apartment buildings, burying an unknown number of people, some of whom were feared dead.[42] One person was killed after torrential rains caused the house he was in to collapse, as well as four other nearby homes.[43]

In Xiapu county, the location of Morakot's landfall in China, 136,000 people reported damage to their homes from flooding or landslides. The fishing sector of the local industry sustained roughly 200 million yuan (US$29 million) in losses. Fourteen townships in the county were flooded. An estimated 3.4 million people reported property damage throughout Zhejiang province, with at least 1,600 homes being destroyed.[43] At least 10,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm and over 1 million acres (4,000 km2) of farmland was inundated by flooding. In China, damages from the storm amounted to $1.4 billion.[17] Over 11 million people were affected by Typhoon Morakot throughout eastern China.[44][45]

Oil deliveriesEdit

The typhoon has resulted in some identifiable but limited impact on oil deliveries to East Asian destinations. At least two fuel oil cargoes in East China were delayed due to Typhoon Morakot. This included 90,000-mt Venezuelan fuel oil cargo with Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province. There was a report that an 18,000-mt cargo of Singapore-origin with fuel oil on board for an August 10 delivery into Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province was postponed to August 15.

Many ports in East China were closed from August 8, including Waigaoqiao, Jinshan and Yangshan ports in Shanghai, Zhoushan and Ningbo ports in Zhejiang, Zhangjiagang, Nantong and Jiangyin ports in Jiangsu.



Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Taiwan
Highest-known totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref.
Rank mm in
1 3,060 120.47 Morakot 2009 Alishan, Chiayi [46]
2 2,319 91.30 Nari 2001 Wulai, New Taipei [47]
3 2,162 85.12 Flossie 1969 Beitou, Taipei [46]
4 1,987 78.23 Herb 1996 Alishan, Chiayi [48]
5 1,774 69.84 Saola 2012 Yilan City [49]
6 1,700 66.93 Lynn 1987 Taipei [50]
7 1,672 65.83 Clara 1967 Dongshan, Yilan [51]
8 1,611 63.43 Sinlaku 2008 Heping, Taichung [52]
9 1,561 61.46 Haitang 2005 Sandimen, Pingtung [53]
10 1,546 60.87 Aere 2004 Miaoli County [54]

After the typhoon, search-and-rescue teams were eventually deployed throughout Taiwan in response to numerous landslides and flash flooding. Helicopters were rushed to Siaolin to retrieve as many residents as possible and transport them to shelters. By August 11, nearly 300 residents were confirmed to have been moved to safety. During the afternoon, one helicopter crashed into a mountainside while carrying three crew members. All three crew members died. Continuing standards set up after the 921 earthquake, the Government of Taiwan provided NT$1 million for each family member killed or missing and NT$250,000 for the critically injured.[55] Due to the severity of the damage in Siaolin access to the area was restricted to military personnel only.[56] Military rescue personnel have recovered 700 villagers alive in three villages on Tuesday night, and another 26 were evacuated by helicopter Wednesday morning.[citation needed] Major-General Richard Hu said it is still too early to state how many villagers had been buried, military rescuers just know that 90% of the homes of the three villages were buried by the landslide.[57][58]

President Ma Ying-jeou and his administration have been criticised because of the slow response to Typhoon Morakot. The government was initially found to have rejected foreign aid, then to have quickly reversed that decision in response to criticism, citing that the rejection was only temporary. Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia has tendered his resignation for authorizing Taiwan's diplomats to turn down foreign aid, a decision done without the consent of more senior officials.[59][60][61]

After the storm passed across central and southern Taiwan towards the east coast of China, the true extent of the damage caused by flooding and mudflows slowly came to be known.

Immediately after the typhoon, large civilian and military search-and-rescue operations were deployed. Helicopters were sent to numerous mountain villages, including Siaolin, in an attempt to rescue locals who were unable to escape by foot.[citation needed] It was discovered that almost 400 people had vanished, and are presumed to have been buried alive when a massive mudflow wiped out 90 per cent of the village's homes.[citation needed] Similar stories have been reported from other small villages in the vicinity of this region.[citation needed]

A portion of the damaged Alishan Forest Railway pictured in April 2010

Rescue operations continue,[when?] with foreign aid coming in from the United States, Australia, Israel and several other European and Asian countries.[citation needed]

The record-breaking rains also caused catastrophic agricultural losses, with estimates reaching NT$14.59 billion (US$443 million).[62]

Fund raising shows such as Artistes 88 Fund Raising Campaign were held in Taiwan and Hong Kong.[63]

Taiwanese aborigines protested against the 14th Dalai Lama during his visit to Taiwan after Typhoon Morakot and denounced it as politically motivated.[64][65][66][67]

The Xiaolin Village Memorial Park was opened in January 2012 to commemorate the village victims from the typhoon.


The World Vision organization reports having distributed roughly 40 gallons of water to 800 people. The National Disaster Coordinating Council declared a state of calamity for the Zambales region as over 13,000 people were left homeless.[68]


Due to the extensive damage and deaths caused by the storm, the name Morakot was later retired. The committee selected the name Atsani to replace "Morakot" on the Western Pacific basin name lists beginning in 2011, and was first used in the 2015 season.

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit